MBU Names New Dean of the College of Education

Mary Baldwin University (MBU) is pleased to announce Tynisha D. Willingham, PhD, as the new dean of the College of Education. Currently serving as associate academic dean and associate professor of education at St. Norbert College (SNC) in De Pere, Wis., Willingham plans to start her position at Mary Baldwin this summer.

“An accomplished academic administrator and an active scholar, Dr. Willingham also brings to her leadership role at Mary Baldwin experience as a classroom teacher and curriculum developer in both urban and rural districts,” said Ty Buckman, provost. “She has the right combination of wisdom and energy to help lead our College of Education into a thriving future, and I can’t wait for her to join us.”

During her associate deanship at SNC, Willingham’s experience has encompassed academic affairs, curriculum assessment, policy development, and budget management. She was named to the 2019 Emerging Leader Cohort at SNC’s Center for Exceptional Leadership, aiming to drive sustainable success for organizations, employees, and communities.

“One of the tenets that drew me to Mary Baldwin is that the liberal arts are at the university’s core,” Willingham said. “I have a love for liberal learning, and how it gives students so many opportunities to become well-rounded, inquiry-minded, and globally and civically minded individuals.”

Prior to serving as associate dean, Willingham held the position of chair of programs and curriculum development for teacher education for four years at SNC. She oversaw more than 10 elementary and secondary certification programs, as well as the program’s accreditation process. She also expanded partnerships for student-teacher placements in urban and rural areas and collaborated with academic departments to build new programs and certifications.

Willingham is excited to build on MBU’s tradition of innovation, pursuing opportunities for new programs of study and enhanced delivery methods, while also supporting the College of Education’s current offerings. 

“MBU is already at the forefront of providing a rigorous university experience in online and alternative delivery platforms,” she said. 

Willingham’s research interests have evolved over the course of her career. After she earned her PhD at the Pennsylvania State University, she built expertise in literacy practices in diverse settings and community engaged learning. Currently her interests are shifting more toward leadership and development for the scholarly community, as she is writing a book with colleagues at Louisiana State University and Loyola University about navigating the publishing process as a novice scholar.

“As I’ve been learning about the university, I see everywhere the term ‘MBU family’, so I’m looking forward to becoming a part of that family, and getting to know the Staunton community as well.”

Tynisha Willingham, PhD

Willingham will succeed Rachel Potter, who was named founding dean of the College of Education in 2014 after serving in several positions in Mary Baldwin’s teacher education program since 2003. Transitioning this summer to the title of director of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) & Autism Studies and associate professor of education, Potter will oversee the university’s rapidly growing programs in ABA and Autism Studies, as well as pursue research into best practices for supporting K–12 students on the autism spectrum, assessment development, and expanding the availability of open educational resources for ABA.

“The College of Education faculty and staff enthusiastically welcome Dr. Willingham to her new leadership role this summer,” said Potter, “and I look forward to continuing my career at MBU, an institution that values inclusivity, excellence, and collaboration.”

Willingham started her career at SNC as assistant professor of education in 2009 and went on to receive awards for excellence in teaching, community service, social justice, and leadership. She also has non-profit experience, serving as school director, curriculum coordinator, and curriculum specialist for Teach For America, as well as founding and developing Vida Charter School in Gettysburg, Pa.

An avid runner and member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority incorporated, Willingham has three children, 15-year-old Nevaeh, 10-year-old Neenah, and 4-month-old Zenith. She’s a New Jersey native, but hasn’t lived on the East Coast for many years.

“Moving to Staunton from Wisconsin, I feel like I’m coming home,” she said. “As I’ve been learning about the university, I see everywhere the term ‘MBU family’, so I’m looking forward to becoming a part of that family, and getting to know the Staunton community as well.”